Foundation Restored

The featured picture was taken on my first visit to the house after being given the option to buy it and it is the reason I almost walked away.  The gutters for the house were completely gone above this section of the foundation, so it took a beating for years.  Inside I had literally, weeping walls, and puddles whenever it rained.  I had countless companies come out to provide remedies, all had price tags $10,000 and higher.  I made the decision to move forward with the purchase and had decided to take one engineers suggestion to remove and replace the most decayed sections of the foundation, about 18′.  That would cost about $20,000.

Fortunately I flew my father in town to look at the house and he urged me not to do it.  He took a hammer to various sections.  Loose pieces fell to the ground, but in short order he reached sound areas.  One engineer recommended some specific products to use.  My father read up on them and said it was work he/we could do ourselves and it could wait; focus on the house.  I’ve done just that since October of 2017 and then Tom Milfeld was put in my path.  Everybody needs a Tom in their life.  His skills are boundless.  Turns out not only is he a great carpenter and tile man, he really loves working with cement.  He learned the skill from his grandfather.  He told me he could repair the entire outside and about two weeks ago, on one of the hottest days this year he got started.

The BEST part of this project is I did not lift a finger.  I told him I’d help dig around the house and he said that is what I was paying him for, not to worry.  Boyfriend you don’t have to tell me twice.  I can’t believe the transformation, which I turned into a Quik video (I haven’t made one of those in awhile) below.  

I’ve reached a juncture in this project where I’ve taken it as far as I can with my current finances.  The inside will be complete (master bath shower is about half finished), but without some help the outside will have to stay the way it is for at least another year, so I’m sending out an appeal.  A good friend of mind encouraged me to start a Go Fund Me Page when I first learned I didn’t qualify for the restoration loan.  I wasn’t fully behind the idea feeling mixed as to whether I qualified to ask, but I did it and over the past year my friends and family donated approximately $3000 (site states less, but most sent me money directly).  A link to the page has been in the side bar and footer of my blog for months, but I drew little attention to it as I honestly thought I had the resources to complete everything I had envisioned.

This post will be my 132nd.  I’ve gotten 38,742 views from people located in 38 different foreign countries.  The idea came to me that if 3000 of the views, less than 10% translated to $5 each I would have the funds to replace the columns and paint the house.  I know there are people out there in far worst positions than mine, but if you’ve enjoyed following the miraculous journey of an advance DIYer, that has put forth a herculean effort to transform an abandoned and abused house, help me reach the finish line.  Have a hand in seeing this house completed with just a small donation and/or encourage your sphere of influence to do the same.  I’d really appreciate your support.  You’ll not only be supporting me, but you’ll be helping to beautify Camp Washington.  Thanks in advance for your consideration and participation.  Enjoy watching Tom transform my foundation.

 

 

From Pinterest to Reality – Part 2

With the dresser inserted, I was eager to get the trim around it.  I would use the original trim that went around the door, but it would need to be cut down.

The first task was finding it in the mass of bundles.  There are two other short closet storage doors and of course I found the trim for those before finally finding the bundle for that area.  I had labeled them Master Closets 1, 2, and 3.  Honestly at that point I couldn’t remember which was 1 or 3.  2 was easy because it had graffiti on it and my before pictures showed me where it went.

Outside of the graffiti this trim was in really good shape.  Since I found all three bundles I decided to prep and hang them all.  Literally all they needed was cleaning due to all the dust, which I did with a bucket filled with Murphy’s Oil Soap.  I was prepared to do my denatured alcohol/Restore-a-Finish routine, but I only used the alcohol on the outer edges to remove paint and on the top plate of door 2 to remove the graffiti.  I did use the Restore-A-Finish in these areas, but what really brought these pieces back to life was the Howard’s Feed and Wax.

The obstacle on this project was cutting the trim down to fit the dresser and I was nervous about this.  There are no do-over opportunities.  That trim design isn’t made anymore and aged wood with the patina I had can’t be store bought.  I seriously thought about calling Tom Milfeld, but I put on my big girl pants and decided to do a trial run with some scrap wood first.

Forty-five degree miter cuts is rookie level, piece of cake.  Measuring the right length, especially for the last piece is my struggle.  I cut the left side first, followed by the top, which I intentionally made long.  When my first angle met up perfectly I cut the right side of the top and then the right side.  I failed, falling about a half inch too short.

That one practice run gave me the confidence I needed and I proceeded to cut the actually trim, SUCCESS!!!!  But now what to do with the gap at the bottom????

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I had always planned to cover it, which is why adjusting the front legs was crucial in Part 1.  I think I’ll have extra of the original wall trim because I won’t need to reinstall any in the bathroom area, but I wouldn’t know that for awhile, so I decided to go to my favorite salvage store Building Value to see if I’d get lucky and find some wide, old, trim.  I hit the jackpot by finding an old window apron (part that rest under the sill) in the exact color and with an outer moulding that was almost a dead match for mine.  All I needed to do was rip it down to the right height, 6″; right width, “29”; clean with soap water, and rub with the wax.  It fit and blended in like it was always part of the house.

I forgave myself for the poor paint job when I saw the finished product.  As with my mirror project, what I saw in my mind’s eye became a reality.  I am so stoked to find the rest of the trim and get it installed.  While searching for the door trim I did find the trim for the landing at the top of the stairs, so I cleaned it up too; water and wax.

In installing the top of the stairs I discovered once again the difference between drywall and plaster thickness.  The boards needed to align with the stair rail (I think that’s what that part is called), so I made my own shims from some thin pieces I had to build out the ends that needed it.

If all the trim cleans and hangs as easy as these pieces did I’m going to be one happy camper.  I’m hugely motivated to tackle more of this project.

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From Pinterest to Reality – Part 1

Some females have wedding books, saving clippings and photos of ideas to create the perfect wedding.  I had an electronic house book, links and photos to things I’d put in my

first house.  The idea to recess a dresser into the eaves space that was once a short closet was born from this picture I saw on Pinterest.   I was starting with nothing in regards to furniture in my master suite.  I really don’t like a lot of furniture, so this was the perfect solution to utilizing the empty space created when I relocated the door to this closet to my master bath linen closet.

It took several months before I found a salvage dresser that would fit in the dimensions, 20190605_205930but I finally did on Nextdoor.com for $50.  A beautiful, five-drawer dresser with dovetail drawers made by the West Michigan Furniture Co. of Holland, MI.  I couldn’t find any before pics, but it was a beautifully made dresser; solid and heavy.

The first thing I needed to do was trim the overhang from the top and bottom sides.  I’ve had this dresser for at least 9 mos, so I made the cuts with my circular saw before I started working with Tom Milfeld and taking classes at the Wood Shop.  I butchered that dresser.  Some areas I cut in too deep, some not far enough.  It’s a good thing the bulk of the dresser would be recessed in the wall.  I could have let it go, but I filled the gaps with wood filler and sanded down the high areas just to get it ready for paint.

This project was all about salvage, recycle, so I did not purchase the primer paint recommended by the Sherwin Williams sales clerk.  I had over a 1/2 quart of their White Synthetic Shellac Primer left from the fire damaged door I bought, so I used it instead.  He told me that would be over kill and he was right, as I discovered.  I’ve always felt spray painting is the best option for painting furniture.  Rolling/brushing creates too thick of layers if you’re not an expect and I am not.  At the end that’s exactly what I got, but I’m jumping ahead.

Once the primer dried my first, bone head amateur mistake was revealed.  I was in such a rush to get this project done, I did the cardinal sin in sanding.  I started with 80 grit and never went higher, so my surface was rough, especially on the drawers.  In hindsight I should have sanded at that step, but my first inclination was more paint would hide it, NOT.

My walls in my master are Sherwin Williams Indigo Batik, so I purchased a quart of their All Surface Enamel (recommended by the clerk) in that color and he recommended a Mohair Blend roller, which I also bought.  I applied two coats of paint and at that stage absolutely hated that I had ruined such a beautiful dresser.  I called my friend Joan who has a relative that paints furniture all the time.  She uses scrap paint and sands lightly between two coats.

Even though I had three coats on already (primer plus two color) I decided to try the sanding in hopes it would get rid of the rough spots that were still visible.  I only sanded the drawers.  It helped and the fourth coat actually looked pretty good.  So good I decided to drain the end of the quart can of Polycrylic.  I had enough for just one coat, but at this point that dresser had five layers on it, which would come back to bite me.

The craftsmen that build that dresser left zero margin in the drawer openings.  My five 20190609_131153layers were thicker than the original stain, so when I went to test a drawer it would not close all the way.  I intentionally painted the top edge of the drawer, but the bottom lip was just overage, so between the drawer edges and the opening overage I had too much build-up.  I used my new chisel set to scrap the bottom of the drawers.  I was hoping it would create a clean edge and it did.  I thought scraping the bottom would be enough, so the next task was getting the dresser from the basement up to flights to my master.

Earlier in the week I had asked my neighbor if he’d be around on the weekend to help and he was willing, but when the day came I had the epic feeling of not wanting to fail with an audience.  I didn’t know for sure if the dresser was going to fit and I didn’t want witnesses, so I tackled getting it upstairs by myself.  I had the full on Jane Fonda burn working in my already too tight calves when I hit the top landing, but it inserted like a glove.

I tried the drawers again and same outcome, still too much paint, so I bought a paint scraper and scraped the paint from the top of the drawers and top/bottom of the opening.  That did the trick, but it looked awful, so I decided take some dark stain (Minwax brand, but color unknown as I had poured the remnants of several different colors in one can) and stain the top edge of the drawers.  That amazingly did the trick.

The next obstacle were the two front legs.  I had to remove all four legs to trim off the bottom overhang.  I reattached them to their original location.  What I discovered was that my opening wasn’t square and the floor not level.  I had used wood glue with the original screws and I needed to push the front legs back about an inch. I used my draw saw to cut through the glue and mini crowbar to left them off.  Amazingly no damage.

That helped with the bottom alignment, but not the top.  For that I removed the original nail-on sliders and installed adjustable, which would allow me to set the heights on each leg differently.  Turned out I needed the entire dresser to tilt forward, so I made the back legs higher than the front.  I also needed the front right side to be lower than the left, which meant the left rear had to be even higher to stop the dresser from rocking.  Sometimes I amaze myself when my mind can sort through fixes like that.

The last step was replacing the original wood knobs with the Amerock Classic Cabinet Knobs Clear/Golden Champagne I found on Amazon.  They are 8-points, just like my glass door knobs on the first floor and the bases were a perfect match to my other brass accents. 

With that part 1 of the project was complete and I could finally empty the last box and bin in my floor.

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September 28, 2018 – February 9, 2019

I should have made post as this project went along, so you may want to get some snacks to get through this one.  September 28, 2018 was the first day I started laying tile in the first floor bathroom, with the goal of having one fully functioning bathroom before I moved in.  February 9, 2019 was the day it officially became a fully functioning bathroom.  I still need to hang the doors, finish the medicine cabinet and touch up paint, but I no longer have to chose between the upstairs or downstairs toilet when I’m on the first floor and I no longer have to use the kitchen sink to wash my hands.  Heaven on earth.

With the exception of letting a plumber connect the shower diverter and drain in tub and having tub professionally reglazed everything else you’ll see I did by myself.  It truly is the most ambitious tile project I have ever undertaken and it tested my resolve, patience, and stretched my skills to a whole new level.  Pinterest can get a DIYer in trouble.  The idea to create a rug affect on the bathroom floor came to me via a picture on Pinterest.  I started with a very easy step, applying the RedGard to the floor and walls

The original floor was all white 1″ hexagon.  It was filthy, but otherwise in great shape.  I hated tearing it out, but the floor joist where really compromised from years of water leaks, so I had no choice, but remove.  I got the floor tile from the Tile Shop in Oakley.  I found a great sales person in Cari Branden.  From there I did a dry fit to make sure the black tile was centered and balanced.  I didn’t lay out the entire floor, just enough to

to know I had cut the mosaics to the right lengths and widths.  It was early in the project, so my confidence was high.  I put together my new Ridgid wet saw and got started.  I had the first row of white and the upper black down and at that point had planned to do all the outer white and then all the black, so I could grout the black.  In hindsight I should have used gray grout for entire floor, but I had my vision set on white on white, black on black.  Things weren’t lining up with the thinset as they did with the dry run as I realized the sink wall was not straight.  I abandoned the idea of laying all the black and just started laying rows, backing my way out the room.

Next was the white grout, trying to be careful not get any in the areas meant for the black grout.  It was November 12th when I reached this stage.  I had sold my house and was packing for my November 17th move.  I turned my focus on the walls (still had not done the black grout) as I had Miracle Method scheduled to refinish the tub on November 15 and they said I needed to have the tile work around the tub finished before they could do their part.  I had already rescheduled them twice.

Followers of my blog have read this statement many times.  My goal was not to renovate, but restore.  The orignal bathroom had 4×4 white tile and tile chair rail on all four walls.  Originally it only went up about 4 feet as there was not a shower, just the gorgeous, deep cast iron tub.  I’ve never worked with a chair rail or cove base tile and they don’t make now as they did back then.  All the wall tile came from Lowe’s, American Olean.  Just before I started this project I got to go to a training at French Lick Resort and stay in their West Baden property.  I had heard so many wonderful things about that property and it did not disappoint.  Highly recommend.  The bathroom had the same chair rail and 4 x 4 tile I had purchased.  I asked management and they told me it was American Olean.  I got geeked (did I just age myself).

I was taught to start in the center and work your way to the sides, so that each corner has the same width tile.  With the corner round I had to start on the outer corner.  It amazingly was easier to work with the corner pieces than I thought.  Even the beveled cuts for the chair rail went off without a hitch. Since I added a shower, my tile went up 7′ around the tub and it seemed like the boxes of tiles were multiplying as I was laying them.  After a full 8 hours I hadn’t put a dent in the tub area, but I had done enough to keep the tub refinishing appointment.

Miracle Method reglazed my master tub at my former house.  My friend Joan had used them and was happy with the outcome, so I didn’t shop around.  They did a good job on Inner Circle, so I became a repeat customer.   They started right after I had my bad 20181115_120545experience with Roland Hardwoods where I didn’t speak up when I knew the work wasn’t right.  For the plumbing rough-in I had to put a drain in for the water test.  Since that tub was going to be reglazed I bought a cheap one from Home Depot and it was still in place.  The young man doing the work was adamant he was not allowed to remove the drain, even though I told him it was temporary.  I knew there was rust under it, but he insisted that area didn’t need to be treated and I could remove it later.  I let it go, as I had to leave due to fumes, but when I saw the tub the next day I knew I was

right as could see that once I removed that drain it was going to compromise the edges around the drain.  I called their office and raised a fit and he was instructed to remove the drain and treat the area underneath.  Instead of buffing and finishing in 2 days he had to retreat the area and I held off the final, buffing, until after my move.  SPEAK UP is the important lesson I learned when your gut tells you something is not right.

Several people told me I could have gotten the reglazing done cheaper, they charged $650, but the final product looked awesome and I’m not knowledgeable enough to know if one process is better than another.  I would use them again despite lower pricing elsewhere.

Since I’m through about half the pictures, I will make this a two-parter.  Stay tuned as you haven’t seen the hard part yet.

Feeling Overwhelmed

This journey of restoring my first house has been an absolute roller coaster ride, but last week when I came home and found this yellow sticker on my door I truly felt overwhelmed for the very first time.  I’m a one woman show now and there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day for me to make big head way.  So many labor intensive projects left to do and clearly I’m not getting them done fast enough.

I have not kept living in my house a secret.  My permits are still hanging in the window as I have not gotten any final inspections done yet, which are required to get the occupancy permit from the City.  I have been in communication with the plumbing and electrical inspectors and knew I needed their final inspections, along with HVAC, before I could get my final building inspection for the occupancy.  I just failed to keep the building inspector up to date.  Corrected that, so I was allowed to remove the sticker and continue living in my house.

20190217_175136The first project I tackled after getting the sticker was painting and hanging the attic access panel frame and door.  What in the world was I thinking letting that project linger. OMG what a difference a door makes (BTW, front door arrived to Hyde Park Lumber Wednesday).  During our arctic cold temps I slept under three quilts, with sweatpants, flannel socks, flannel robe, and a long sleeve t-shirt.  That’s how cold my master bedroom was.  Well no wonder given the cold air that was plowing in from the roof vents.  I’ve turned my thermostat down 4 degrees since installing that door.  My upstairs is so comfortable now.

With the first floor bathroom complete (minus doors) I was able to schedule the plumbing inspector this week, Tuesday, but I knew without the master bath tub and shower completed it would only be a partial passing.  Sadly I learned that my original inspector has been assigned to another territory and won’t be around to see my journey completed.  The new inspector found two things I’ll need to correct, in addition to 20190219_113756finishing the master bath before I’ll get his final approval.  Both corrections are easy.  All tubs and showers must have a hot temperature range between 110 and 120 degrees.  My first floor bath is currently 128, I need to turn it down.  I also have an improper fitting on my hot water tank.  This pipe needs to have metal threads, not plastic.

The electrical inspection I expect to pass and receive the final approval as I was not 20190220_222926going to schedule it until everything is complete.  My awesome electrician Mr. McGhee came and put the electric panel door on and walked through the house.  Everything must have a cover and be in working condition including my LED mirror that mysteriously fell off wall.  Fortunately the replacement parts were easy to install.  Gravity helped me get it off the wall for repairs and Mr. McGhee helped me re-hang and reconnect.

20190221_092639The one thing still not working is the Ring Cam Flood Light.  I’ll need to buy a new light that can work from high distances from the ground.  After contacting Ring I learned their unit is not designed to work above 9′.  Seems they feel having it at the height a burglar can reach with a baseball bet is more effective.  I think Ring products have to be the most under performing product as compared to their commercials I’ve ever dealt with.  VERY disappointed and sorry I wasted my money.

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Top board sanded, bottom not

With the door now just a couple of weeks away from installation I’ve turned my focus on the window moulding on the first floor.  Outside air has not only been pouring in from the front door, but from around the windows too.   I got all of them stained, remembering the sanding lesson I learned from my visit to Homestead Furniture.

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I used a tack cloth to remove fine dust before sanding

Before staining I wiped each down with a tack cloth.  My former neighbor Bill hooked me on to these.  They are a sticky gauze  that really captures fine dust. The stain is a custom color mixed for me by Sherwin Williams.  The brand is Zar and it’s a gel stain.  I took a piece of the original moulding to them to match.  I’m anxious to see how close the new and old match once hung. Once they dry I’ll apply a few coats of poly for protection.

I am bound and determined to do a little something every week day now.  That yellow sticker was literally sticker shock.

 

 

 

Busy With Small Projects

How do you eat an elephant………………….one bite at a time and that is what it’s going to take to get my house finished.  One would think now that I’m living here I’d have more time to work on things, but that has not proven to be the case.  I had to come to the reality that I have not been growing my consulting business in over a year and I’ve probably jeopardized some of my existing clients by being overly focused on my house.  Thanks to those that have shown patience and understanding.

Now that the 1st floor bath is fully functioning (next post) I have been tackling quick small projects in the evenings.  In no particular order:

I’ve installed all the cold air vent covers.  Only three, but I did need to buy a metal drill bit to get a hole through the metal frames that were behind the drywall.  I got the grills from Amazon.

I put the access panel up in the guest bedroom.  The City plumbing inspector required me to put a mixing valve on the water lines for the master tub and those lines ran in the ceiling of the guest bedroom along with the connection for the tub.  I needed to create access to that area, so hence the need for the panel.  I got the access panel from Home Depot.

The kitchen door is lockable, but I knew the knob on the door was not original and it looked terrible.  The new knob I found looks like originals I have on other doors and I found it originally on Build.com.  It was almost $50, but as I’ve said many times I’m trying to restore, not renovate, so I made the splurge.  I realized a couple of weeks had gone by (you just lose track of time working on a house) and the knob hadn’t arrived, so I contacted Build.com.  Turns out it was a special order for Baldwin, the manufacturer and it wasn’t scheduled to ship until March.  I cancelled the order and found the exact one on Amazon for $20.  I had it in FREE two-day shipping with Prime.  My price must have been a fluke or special, because now the same knob is on Amazon for $40.

This next project actually took multiple evenings because of a brain freeze mis-drill.  I hung the master bathroom vanity light.  I’ve had the light for a few months, but didn’t like it.  This was my first and LAST time ordering from Houzz.  As soon as it arrived I had buyers remorse and contacted them that day for a return.  I got no response.  I don’t shop where I can’t return, so done with Houzz.  I decided after we ran wires, but before drywall that I wanted the light to come from the ceiling instead of the wall (inspired by some HGTV show).  Fortunately I had enough extra wire to make the move.

I went up into the attic access panel and measured the length of wire and the distance of where I wanted the light to cascade.  I thought I had enough, but totally snoozed on allowing for the height of the ceiling joist.  I cut the first hole and quickly realized the light needed to be on the opposite side of the joist.  So, more drywall patching was in my future.  I’m getting pretty good at it now.

Unfortunately there was one casualty, the LED mirror.  I cleaned it for the first time and it fell off the wall.  Fortunately I caught it, so it didn’t fall forward and the glass did not break.  The bottom of the metal frame, which houses the IR and on/off switch, landed on the back splash and both broke.  The light no longer functions, so I guess it’s a good thing I hung the ceiling light, which I’m learning to like.  Build.com carries the same Eglo light.  I contacted the miror manufacturer, Innoci-USA, and they said it’s not covered under the warranty.  They are willing to send me a new IR and on/off switch if I pay shipping and handling.  I’ll get the parts, but may never install them.  I don’t miss the neon-like light it cast.  If I understood what 6000K lumens provided (basically a blue tone, daylight) I wouldn’t have gotten it.  At night you feel like you’re on Time Square.  The glow is so neon-like you barely can see yourself in the mirror.

I ordered and hung the dining room chandelier, which means I’m now ready for my final electrical inspection.  I wanted something that would compliment the original wall sconces.  I was hoping to find something in pewter, like those lights, but couldn’t find20190209_130333 anything I liked that was affordable.  I started looking at other matt, silver, finishes and found this light originally on LampsPlus.com.  They didn’t carry it in brushed nickel, but Build.com did.  To get the right size chandelier I followed the guidelines outlined in a video found on LampsPlus.com.  I ordered the same satin threaded bulbs, but in E12, from Bulbs.com I put in the wall scones.  I’ll post a picture of it lit once they arrive.

20190111_232428I stained the moulding around the stain glass entry foyer window.  I really need to put the frame back together, so I can finish that area once and for all.  As you can see I managed to get stain on the wall, so some touch-up painting is in my future.  The front door is scheduled to arrive the week of February 18, so I may need to spend a few evenings in this area.

The remaining projects were more decor related and helped to clear out some more boxes.  I put all my mother’s figurines back in their storage cases and put out some of my framed pictures.  I also hung two pictures.  Gilbert Young’s “Fleeting Moments” will definitely stay in that location, but my Shackelfords photo picture I will probably end up relocating after my new sofa and over-sized chair arrive.  I think it may get blocked by my floor lamp and make it hard for people to see it.

A friend of mine was shopping for bar stools for her house at the Frontgate Outlet Store and sent me some pictures of blue pieces she thought I might like.  I liked several and 20190210_193814decided to go take a look.  I had planned to get two ottomans to use as my coffee table, but one of the only two had a defective leg.  I did get the navy leather bench for my master bedroom.  It looks awesome at the foot of my bed.

The last project to share was the connecting of my receiver, CD/DVD player, and phono to the Leviton Home System my dad ingeniously researched for my house.  I can now listen to the TV, records, radio, DVDs and CDs through the speakers located throughout the house.  I must admit, it’s pretty cool.

20190211_003324I found those peach crates on Offer Up.  I had similar to store my albums in college, but stupidly got rid of them years ago.  I found LP dividers, similar to what record stores use, along with sleeves for 45s, and vinyl record cleaner on Amazon.  I felt compelled to get my old-school way of listening to music up and running given I’m living in an old house.  My mix of vinyl (most of it was my mom’s) is pretty eclectic.  That entertainment system has to be the most coolest feature of the house, at least until my car wash shower is complete.

Hunker down for the next post.  It was almost 6 months in the making.